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Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Film Review | Chaarfutiya Chhokare

The virginal idealism of Neha Malini (Soha Ali Khan), the protagonist of Manish Harishankar’s film Chaarfutiya Chhokare, is just one of the ingredients of this standard “social issue" capsule. Rural Bihar is a seat of rotten patriarchy and oppression. Child marriage and child trafficking are de rigueur. This is a watered-down version of the world we have seen in some of the later films of Prakash Jha. Neither the ruthless nor the aggrieved are complex—one shade defines every character.

Neha hits all the predictable notes, in her journey from complete naivete to souring cynic in course of the film, finally becoming its agent for a climax that is seemingly cathartic, but is close to bathos. The Bihari land mafiosi Lakhan, which Zakir Hussain plays with relish and not much flourish, is the ruthless man of a village in Bettiah, Bihar. Civilization has not inched into this village. The mother of an adolescent boy who turns criminal after the family’s poverty defeats him, is a stoic woman given to intermittent sobs and hysteria, and Seema Biswas lends it as much realism and subtlety as the writing (also by Harishankar) allows her to. The three boys or the chaarfutiyas (the adolescent boys), Awadesh (Harsh Mayar), Gorakh (Shankar Mandal) and Hari (Aditya Jitu) stretch the smidgens of histrionics they can muster as far as they can. Khan adopts one distressed note through the film.

Consequently, Chaarfutiya Chhokare is a tedious regurgitation of Bihari malevolence.

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Soha Ali Khan with Shankar Mandal.

The noble intention of the film is undoubtable. In execution and storytelling it is a mess. The Hindi “social issue" melodrama usually has the stamp of a maker whom mainstream star-driven Bollywood has dyed purple, and with all that conditioning, and there is an attempt to break out and make a meaningful film. Chaarfutiya Chhokare does not look beyond the obvious; it views rural afflictions through the stale evil-versus-innocent, victim-versus-victimizer narrative. Some nerve in the performances and crackle in the dialogues may have made the film a few notches better.

Chaarfutiya Chhokare released in theatres on Friday.

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